Cameron Highlands road is safe despite erosion: Authorities

IPOH: Authorities have assured that the 44th kilometre stretch of Simpang Pulai-Cameron Highlands road is safe.

This was in response to a photograph being circulated which showed the road looking precarious with erosion beneath it.

Perak Public Infrastructure Committee chairman Datuk Zainol Fadzi Paharudin said the stretch was specially designed by the Public Works Department (JKR) based on the terrain there, using a "pile embankment system" to support the surface.

He said there were concrete pilings beneath the road, which could support it even if soil erosion reached the side of the road.

"There is basically a bridge underground. We cannot see it because it is covered.

"JKR had used its technical expertise to design and build a structure that is sound and can withstand heavy loads.

"They have expected the eventuality of soil erosion because of the steep hillside and built the structure to stand on its own even if the side of the road has eroded", he told reporters during a visit there yesterday.

Zainal Fadzi visited the site after the aerial image of the road went viral, leading to media queries and public concern.

"Based on JKR's reports, it is not as bad or critical as it seems. It poses no danger to motorists. It looks bad, but in reality, the road is safe," he said.

He said the picture was believed to have been taken in 2014, noting that the scene looked the same now but there are no new erosion sites.

"Upgrading works have been conducted. JKR is monitoring the area from time to time," he said, adding that the upgrading works cost about RM10mil.

Zainol Fadzi also said JKR had tried to plant grass at the hillslope to stop the erosion but it was a futile effort.

"The soil continues to slip, causing the plants to fall.

"Even if we continue to repair the soil, it will still be pointless as the steep terrain will cause the soil to slip," he added.

"We will try to get more allocations to fix the eroded area. Hopefully, we can get about RM70mil (S$23.9 million) to make it look safer, though it is already safe."

JKR acting director-general Datuk Dr Roslan Taha said there has been no new soil movement since repair works were completed in December 2015.

The structure of the highway was "stable", he said.

"Reinforcement work, like tie-back walls, soil nailing and piled rafting, has been carried out in Section 44 to ensure the structure of the road is stable and to avoid landslides from spreading.

"These works were completed on Dec 24, 2015."

He said the department would check for soil movements in these areas every three hours.

"Movements are recorded in the Perak JKR system server and JKR's slope branch. If there are any differences in movement readings, the system will alert officers via SMS.

"Every month, data will be sent to vendors that are appointed by the slope branch for analysis," he said.